1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Walch, Johann Georg

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WALCH, JOHANN GEORG (1693-1775), German theologian, was born on the 17th of June 1693 at Meiuingen, where his father, Georg Walch, was general superintendent. He studied at Leipzig and Jena, amongst his teachers being J. F. Buddeus (1667-1729), whose only daughter he married. He published in 1716 a work, Historia critica Latinae linguae, which soon came into wide use. Two years later he became professor extraordinaries of philosophy at Jena. In 17 19 he was appointed professor ordinaries of rhetoric, in 1721 of poetry, and in 1724 professor extraordinaries of theology. In 1728 he became professor ordinaries of theology, and in 1730 professor primaries. His theological position was that of a very moderate orthodoxy, which had been influenced greatly by the philosophy and controversies of the Deistic period. His university lectures and published works ranged over the wide fields of church history in its various branches, particularly the literature and the controversies of the church, dogmatics, ethics and pastoral theology. He died on the 13th of January 1775.

Of his works the most valuable were Bibliotheca theological (1757-1765); Bibliotheca patristica (1770, new cd. 1834); his edition of Luther's works in 24 vols. (1740-1752); Historische und llieologische Einleitung in die religiosen Streitigkeilen, welche sonderlich aiisser der ev.- lutherischen Kirche enlsianden (5 vols., 1733 ff.); the companion work to this, Einleitung in die eligionsstreitigkeilen der evangel, liith. Kirclte (1730-1739), and Philosophisches Lexikon (1726, 4th ed. 1775). His life, with a complete list of his writings, which amounted to 287, Leben und Charakter des Kirchcnraths J. C. Walch, was published anonymously by his son C. W. F. Walch (Jena, 1777). Cf. Wilhelm Gass, Prolestantische Dogmatik, iii. p. 205 sq.

His son, Johann Ernst Immanuel (1725-177S), studied Semitic languages at Jena, and also natural science and mathematics. In 1749 he published Einleitung in die Harmonic der Evangelisten, and in 1750 was appointed professor extraordinarius of theology. Five years later he became professor ordinariua of logic and metaphysics; in 1739 he exchanged this for a professorship of rhetoric and poetry. Amongst other theological works he published Dissertationes in Acta Apostolorum (1756-1761); Antiquitates symbolicae (1772); and after his death appeared Observationes in Matthaeum ex Graecis inscriptionibus (1779). He also published a periodical Der Naturforscher (1774–1778), and during the years 1749–1756 took an active part in editing the Zeitungen von gelehrten Sachen.

See article in Allgemeine deutsche Biographie; also Lebensgeschichte J. E. I. Walch (Jena, 1880), and J. G . Meusel’s Lexikon der verstorbenen teutschen Schriftsteller, vol. xiv.

Another son, Christian Wilhelm Franz (1726–1784), was educated at Jena under his father's direction, and as early as 1745–1747 lectured in the university in branches of exegesis, philosophy and history. He then travelled with his brother, J. E. I. Walch, for a year in Holland, France, Switzerland and Italy. On his return he was in 1750 made professor extraordinaries of philosophy in Jena, but in 1753 he accepted an invitation to become professor ordinaries at Gottingen. Here in I754 he became professor extraordinaries of theology, and three years later received an ordinary professorship. He lectured on dogmatics, church history, ethics, polemics, natural theology, symbolics, the epistles of Paul, Christian antiquities, historical theological literature, ecclesiastical law and the fathers, and took an active interest in the work of the Gbilingcr Socicidt der Wissenschajlen. In 1766 he was appointed professor primaries. His permanent place amongst learned theologians rests on his works on church history. Semler was much his superior in originality and boldness, and Mosheim in clearness, method and elegance. But to his wide, deep and accurate learning, to his conscientious and impartial examination of the facts and the authorities at first hand, and to “his exact quotation of the sources and works illustrating them, and careful discussion of the most minute details,” all succeeding historians are indebted. His method is critical and pragmatic, “pursuing everywhere the exact facts and the supposed causes of the outward changes of history,” leaving wholly out of sight the deeper moving principles and ideas which influence its course. He died on the 10th of March 1754.

His principal work was his Entwurf einer vollstandigen Historie der Ketzereien, Spaltungen, und Religionsstreiligkeiten, bis auf die Zeit der Reformation (11 vols., Leipzig, 1762–1785). Of his other valuable works may be mentioned Geschichte der evangelisch-lutherischen Religion, als ein Beweis, dass sie die wahre sei (1753), Entwurf einer vollständigen Historie der römischen Päpste (1756, 2nd ed. 1758; Eng. trans. 1759), Entwurf einer vollständigen Historie der Kirchenversammlungen (1759), Grundsätze der Kirchengeschichte des Neuen Testaments (1761, 2nd ed. 1773, 3rd ed. 1792). Bibliotheca symbolica vetus (1770), Kritische Untersuchung vom Gebrauch der heiligen Schrift unter den alien Christen (1779), occasioned by the controversy between G. E . Lessing and J. M . Goeze, and to which Lessing began an elaborate reply just before his death.

On C. W. F. Walch as historian see F. Baur, Epoclien der kirchlichen Geschichtsschreibung (1852), p. 145 sq., and Dogmengeschichte, p. 38 sq. (1867, 3rd ed.); W. Gass, Geschichte der protestantischen Dogmatik, iii. p . 267 sq.; J. G. Meusel, Lexicon versiorbener tetilschen Schriflstcller, vol. xiv. For his life, see the article in the Allgetneine deutsche Biographie.

A third son, Karl Friedrich (1734–1799), devoted himself to the study of law, and became professor of law at Jena in 1739. His most important works were Introduclio in conlroversias juris civilis rccentioris (Jena, 1771) and Geschichte der in Deulschland geltenden Rcchte (Jena, 1780). He died on the 20th of July 1799.